Google, YouTube content providers must face US children’s privacy lawsuit

Dec 28 (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday revived a lawsuit accusing Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O ) Google and several other companies of violating the privacy of children under 13 by tracking them without parental consent YouTube activity in order to deliver their targeted advertisements.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle said Congress had no intention of passing the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to preempt privacy statements based on state laws.

The law gives the FTC and state attorneys general, rather than private plaintiffs, the power to regulate the online collection of personal data from children under 13.

The lawsuit says Google’s data collection violates similar state laws and that YouTube content providers such as Hasbro Inc (HAS.O), Mattel Inc (MAT.O), Cartoon Network (WBD.O) and DreamWorks Animation (CMCSA.O) ) lures kids to their channel knowing they will be followed.

In July 2021, U.S. District Judge Beth Rabson Freeman in San Francisco dismissed the lawsuit, arguing that federal privacy laws take precedence over plaintiffs’ claims under California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Tennessee. Claims under state law.

But in Wednesday’s 3-0 decision, Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown said the wording of the federal law makes it “ridiculous” to assume Congress intends to bar plaintiffs from invoking state laws against the same alleged misconduct. of”.

The case was returned to Freeman to consider other grounds that Google and the content provider might have to dismiss.

Lawyers for Google and the content providers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for the children did not immediately respond to similar requests.

In October 2019, Google agreed to pay $170 million to settle allegations by the FTC and New York Attorney General Letitia James that YouTube illegally collected personal data from children without parental consent.

Plaintiffs in the San Francisco case say Google did not begin to comply with COPPA until January 2020.

Their lawsuit seeks compensation for YouTube users aged 16 and under between July 2013 and April 2020.

The case is Jones et al v. Google LLC et al., U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, No. 21-16281.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis

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